New image generator from Rockwell Collins relies on FPGAs for graphics processing

ORLANDO, Fla., 1 Dec. 2009/ – A new image generator – the EP-8000 – from Rockwell Collins Simulation and training Solutions in Salt Lake City, Utah, uses field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) rather than graphics chips to create detailed, real-world environments for flight simulation. The new system is on display this week at Rockwell Collins' booth #1501 at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) in Orlando.

ORLANDO, Fla., 1 Dec. 2009/ – A new image generator – the EP-8000 – from Rockwell Collins Simulation and training Solutions in Salt Lake City, Utah, uses field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) rather than graphics chips to create detailed, real-world environments for flight simulation. The new system is on display this week at Rockwell Collins' booth #1501 at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) in Orlando.

The heart of the EP-8000 is the screen processor, which uses FPGAs instead of graphics cards to generate the images, enabling operators to upgrade the system through software updates rather than having to swap out graphics cards, says Steve Thomas, principal marketing manager for Rockwell Collins Simulation and Training Solutions. It uses both Xilinx and Altera FPGAs, he adds.

The system is more efficient for image generation than PCs, he continues, because it can provide much greater resolution using less hardware – "it only takes 12 boxes to control 30 million pixels."

The system also communicates box to box over Infiniband cables using the Serial Rapid IO protocol, says Bob Grange, principal product manager at Rockwell Collins Simulation and Training Solutions. This provides less overhead at more efficient cost, he adds.

The EP-8000 is the first image generator to apply software programmable technology for a graphical flight simulation, Grange continues.

Grange says they have sold the systems, but cannot reveal names at this time. It is applicable for commercial and military flight simulation systems, he adds.

New features of the EP-8000 include:
-near eye-limited resolution;
-real-world scene density and depth complexity;
-sub-meter out-the-window and sensor imagery over very large areas;
-real-world, correlated lighting, atmospherics, and special effects;
-economically upgradeable graphics pipeline;
-largest dedicated texture memory in the industry for high-resolution imagery; and
-reliable and maintainable for as long as 20 years.

This approach makes it possible to add new features and performance enhancements to the system with simple software updates versus changing out graphics cards.

Other advantages include: improved life cycle cost/performance for high-end image generation; improvement in scene density; and compatibility with existing EP databases and host interfaces

The system is supported by Rockwell Collins' global support network for rapid deployment of critical parts, providing first-responder capability and allowing efficient deployment of visual system specialists to assist with technical problems.

The EP-8000 leverages Rockwell Collins' CORE simulation architecture introduced earlier this year. CORE is built upon common open reusable elements.

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